Burning Man 2006: Installment #1 de la Hekter the Virgin

To try and transition all of the preparation (thrift store perusing, wig fitting, stilt tripping, e-baying funky skimpies, evaporation ponds, shady zones, etc.), fuzzy memories and footwear, sweat, bliss, drama, blisters, ultra-input, flame, sleep-deprivation, global orientation, moonwalking, heat, majesty, desertified hallucinations (or were they?), sunrises, sprouting friendships, burning, cold, swirling dustangels, sunsets, cryptic sounds, dust storms, playa-techno and integration into mere words is a task that may require carnal knowledge of my temporarily misplaced Thesaurus and a thorough grasp of the run on sentence. Run on I say… Run On! I may only attempt to digress with the tools I gotst whether spell check agrees or not.

That mischievous grin that invades one’s entire cranium accompanied by a universal flame stoked deep behind the eyes while describing their BM moments certainly caught my imagination and planted the kindling in my to-do campfire. For over ten years I have heard the stories, seen the photos, met the “burners” (disironically in some of my favorite places on this rotating orb of freshness) and had decided to just let the universe unvelop itself in due time for my initiation into the playa mandala of rebirth (I am but only a sparkled grain of playa in the entire installation although I’m sure the Monks would have a difficult time stuffing me into a straw, unless of course it was of the crazy variety). 2006 just happened to be the year when time, money, friends, patience, will, intent and the functionality of my four-wheeled brother Spencer were all playing on the same team instead of the king-of-the-hill game they have been engaged in over the previous years. I have diligently taught these life forces to share with each other or face a time-out on my portable orange shag carpet swatch. BM 2006 is a go Houston, and the universe laid out the crushed-velvet red carpet for my arrival and Camp Overkill was my surrogate rehabilitation facility back into the world of my hopes, which I could no longer fear.

Functional Lesson #1:

Showing up on Sun day, not night nor Monday, is highly recommended cause security is playa-ridden and lax….. early arrival lists have long been spent for rolling J’s and emergency toilet paper, therefore, your glorious smile and fuzzy accessories are redundantly sufficient for the early arrival process. Even told the gatekeeper it was my first time and all he did was town-drop places in Washington… freakin’ plate-peaker didn’t even make me dig piggy-style in the anticipatory playa or give me a proper virgin whippin’.

Day first couple:

I must give it up for Cabenza Construction! Moon lit power tooling, semi-luminescent headlights (L.E.D. hopeful), one glove chop sawin’, anti-locational toolyard, drunkard labor, dome raising ratchet masters, sparking rotors, Elvis safety glasses, color-coded mathematicians, “Chronic” on the spot, the man with the plan, “The Machine” for directing sleepy Hekter into productive kinetics, re-bar rodeoin’ and the fruit boxes were getting more sun-ripened by the hour. Much like a high tide rising to it’s inevitable elevation, people and things began to sprout on the back 40, the side 40 and the 140 in-between; the feng shei of 40,000ish people began to lay the blankets where they lay and root down; even a Chia-Pet can’t touch that!

This brings me to a crucial aspect of BM: you truly get out of it what you put into it – so cliché but spot on (pardon my knickers). It may be my first year but I put as much energy as I had in my distracted reserve tank and would not feel so enlightened if I had just showed up for the ride. To help when you have a moment, sweep someone’s freshly loufa’d gray water around the pool, do some dishes, cut some limes, gas the generators, give a quickie massage to the mis-postured individual, tong the condoms out of the morning art car (used or not and of course we are talking about the aptly named space orgy), share your favorite shirt to a stranger, cook for a minimum of 15 and have party favors for a city block on the 4th of July. What is the summit without the hike, the graduation without the education, the groove without the DJ, the orgasm without the foreplay? The means is the ride, the end is just a place to be, the halfway point. The mountainside sustains the summit, the education sustains the mind and life is completely relative. To harvest more joy, you must put in more work and be proud of the tribal welfare. Own your intention! BM is truly the first place where giving has been more empowering than getting. Fuck Christmas, to delight others is to delight the inner-self and the smiles on burners faces as they approached our camp or art-cars was priceless. Every burner is just a soulful reflection of ourselves although a few need more forward reminders that we ain’t taking them home nor losing them forever!

To hear and see photos of the infamous BM dust storms can’t relay the minute stinging of the playa particles bombarding all open skin, the painfully slow resination of the lungs with an Elmer’s Glue type substance, the cough that makes your belly button sneeze, the stinging of the eyes as somehow the particles groove their way through your “bombproof” goggles and get to work on brewing tomorrow morning’s eye boogers, a complete white out of any sense of place or being. The fiercely camped cotton shag on my tongue even decided to reabsorb until conditions were more “convenient.” The power storm on Tuesday (or Wednesday?) brought the Yin to the overly indulgent Yang of BM and the slate was wiped clean, balance was restored and the beat moved on. The smoky gray orb of what was previously considered our sun, danced in and out of view as if teasing kittens with a ball of yarn (Quite possibly a hazardous condition considering most of the kittens were “nipped” up). When one’s exterior is so violently ambushed one is forced to delve deeper within themselves for that place of calm and acceptance. A moment of truly releasing the physical and taking the mental to the big tire at recess for yummy kisses (albeit crunchy). That Playa dust storm certainly was the fine-grit sandpaper to my psyche. It scratched free all those layers of painted debris that we all accumulate to some degree in our so-called “society.” I felt as if I was a shiny piece of steel again waiting for the next artist’s rendition. The dust storm was the equalizer of all things breathing, the vast difference between a group and a tribe. It was as if all communal tension was thrown through the power washer and came out sparkling clean, only the original element existing. Without it, I may have woken up on Neptune with an empty gas tank and a toothless toothbrush.

Functional Lesson #2:

When partying on the “Allure” in the middle of the playa during a dust storm, drink beer instead of cocktails – much smaller portal for the alien particles to invade.

Functional Lesson #3:

Remember to close your car doors before haphazardly jumping into the departing art car as these dust storms tend to arrive quicker than you can remember your name. Every time I turn on the A/C or Vent I get a lil’ personalized mini-storm – mmmmmh – Playalicious!

We may have been located beyond Thunderdome but camp Overkill was where the sidewalk ends. Teetered on the brink of free-range and inter-urban, Overkill was a pleasant surprise for those willing to wonder beyond the “abrupt edge” signs (what exactly those signs were eluding to may take many more years of investigation before enlightenment?). A black light monkey bars for monkeys with really, really long ………….. arms of course. Much love to Mathew the crane operator (He took his crane fishing for hurricane Katrina scraps last year!) and all those who made it happen – the art cars, the dome, peach juice dripping down my flavor savor, fatty sandies that made my lips crack just to get em’ in, Pacifiho’s with lime, limbo showers on the plastic bottle hovercraft, couch induced ponderings, pole-dancing sexy bitches, black light smiles, sunrise melts, afternoon Jaegermeister (how the hell do you spell this elixir?) sips, the everlasting bar, playa wonderings, gray-water pool-side happy hour, mysterious invisible giggles and the cuddles that sent me deep into dreamtown.

Thus decludes installation #1 of Hekter the Virgin and his scrambled thoughts. #2 is going to bed with me tonight for some reflective contemplation and R.E.M…. the best way to stir it up.

by Hekter the Virgin

About the author: Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.